Category: Uncategorized

Goodbye, social media. And good riddance.

I admit, I was late to the social media thing. I joined most platforms years after everyone was already on them. I joined Google+ just because I had to, but have posted just about nothing there. I hesitated to jump on the “social” bandwagon for three reasons:

  • Talking about my private life online seemed stupid and narcissistic.
  • Being privy to others’ stream of consciousness rantings ala Twitter seemed like a tremendous waste of time.
  • People seemed to irrationally sign up for these services for no good reason besides the fact that everybody else was doing so (peer pressure). Since I am not a fan of group-think and following the herd, I was turned off by this.

Despite my reservations, my ex-wife finally convinced me that it was fun and I signed up for Facebook. It was great at first, as I was able to reconnect with all sorts of people I had wondered about for many years, plus some people I had completely forgotten. It was cool to see grade school friends all grown up, with families of their own.

The initial wonder quickly wore off, however, as one single, ugly truth reared its head: I really didn’t want to hear what any of these people had to say.

Facebook and Twitter function by throwing people’s inane thoughts, stupid opinions, and illogical reasonings in my face 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year. These status updates, comments, and streams of consciousness found all over the web have become living, breathing mirrors into the entire reactive hive-mind of the planet. I am daily bombarded with posts from or about:

  • God
  • Dogs and cats
  • Violence
  • Homosexual and transexual rights
  • Foul-mouthed little kids
  • Politically-correct lunacy
  • Hateful right-wingers
  • Hateful left-wingers
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Artificial optimism (angels, Zen, crystals, healing, etc.)
  • Weight-losers that can’t actually succeed and complain about it.
  • Perverts
  • Thinly-veiled marketing messages

About the only posts that have value are ones showing some kind of art or humor. Hmm, maybe I should try Myspace? Oh yeah that’s gone.

Social media has allowed a peek into the minds and lives of real people, and all I can say is that it leaves me feeling a bit sad. All those broken dreams. The only thing social media has proven to me is that this planet is in serious trouble, because the majority of its citizens are mildly retarded, according to the nuttiness displayed by their social media status updates.

So, while I will continue to use social media for purely marketing purposes, my private life will remain private. I will be removing most of my private stuff, including pictures, posts about current events, etc.

Now this BLOG however, is different. I might start using this as my personal online platform, and to heck with the rest of them.

 

 

How a social media plan can increase domain authority

Ever since domain authority became a major concern in the digital marketing world, marketers have been trying to find out what it takes to improve it. Why?

Ranking your site on google is an important aspect (if not the most important aspect) of the digital marketing equation. It signifies a better organic online exposure, which usually means a higher rate of organic traffic, leads, and ultimately – profit.

In saying all that, we all know that social media has become the hottest platform when it comes to cost-effective digital marketing, but how does your social media marketing relate to building your website’s domain authority as a whole?

What exactly is domain authority and why should we care?

To start things off, let’s take a look at what domain authority actually stands for.

As we know, more authoritative sites have already established themselves to achieve higher rankings on Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) – the goal of every SEO marketer. The whole first page in the search engine results is gold, but that first position on the first page is the piedestal for all SEOs.

Plus, there’s a ton of data to back it up. Ranking first on a google search query can sometimes result in a CTR at least 200% higher than the second search result in line! When organic click through rate is through the roof, usually your conversions are too!

When talking about site and page rankings on the the SERP, the professionals in the SEO industry have one particular measurement they like to use as an industry standard – Domain Authority (DA).

What this particular SEO term stands for is actually a ranking metric, developed by MOZ. As google’s page rank was discontinued in 2010, MOZ has been left as the standard metric.

Moz measures DA on a logarithmic scale of 1 to 100. (Note that 90+ numbers take years and years to achieve, if ever). The difficulty of getting points is not linear – the higher the point, the more difficult to acquire. But one thing’s for certain – the closer you are to 100, the easier it is to rank your pages on Google and your business becomes more profitable.

So it’s worth the trouble.

If you want to know what your domain ranking is, Moz has a free tool called Open Site Explorer (OSE) where you can check your DA, but what does it take to improve it?

The simple answer would be – everything and anything SEO related.

Factors that affect domain authority

When it comes to SEO, there is definitely more than meets the eye. One thing is for certain – SEO and digital marketing requires a holistic approach that involves white hat (those are the only ones we’ll talk about anyway) techniques that involve: high quality, SEO-optimized, linkable content; technical SEO; domain age; backlink profile; website structure and navigation and many more elusive and esoteric ranking factors involved in the domain authority algorithm.

High-quality content along with great (and many) backlinks is a must, but there are a ton of other factors that influence your rankings.For now, however, we’ll be focusing on how to use social media to improve your DA, as social media can be an influencing aspect of SEO, and digital marketing in general.

How important is social media for building domain authority and Google rankings?

Domain authority is all about keeping a proper balance between multiple factors – content marketing, link building, and a rock solid social media strategy. There are, of course, sites who’ve cracked their SEO and managed to rank well without any form of social media just fine, but social media works extremely well as a nice reassurance for success.

Are social media links a direct factor in google rankings?

Unfortunately, Google’s algorithms are constantly changing, and there’s a heated debate on the subject. There has, however, been research conducted in the SEO marketing world that shows that social signals and DA are extremely correlated.

But correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. There is no conclusive evidence that shows anything like Facebook likes or Twitter followers directly affects domain authority.

What it does imply, however, is that there is a strong connection – people find out about your products, services, and business in general mainly on social media. This will lead to them visiting your site, clicking around, adding some of your products to their carts, and later talking about it (on social media again). That will get you and your business recognition in your niche, while also potentially landing you some great links and a steady flow of social traffic to your website. Traffic and links are absolute domain authority factors, and both of them can benefit a great deal from your social media marketing efforts.

Think of it this way: social activity increases the likelihood of factors that actually do affect your rankings. And there are plenty of indirect ways a social media strategy can help with building your domain authority:

1.    Social media can help you build your brand and audience

Building a brand and defining an audience are both major SEO objectives. Having a consistent and clear image and an audience that it appeals to is crucial to market your products or services properly.

2.   It can help get your content discovered and indexed by search engines

Posting a link to new content on a few social networks can cause Google to discover the new page and index it, and sometimes a new page can get a temporary boost if it’s relevant to a specific query. Social media can help your pages get noticed this way, but you have to have a combination of other factors for your page to stay ranked.

Google+ is increasingly becoming more important, as Google’s current algorithm seems to favor it. The only problem is that nobody seems to use it, with the exception of SEO marketers (for obvious reasons).

To what extent are social media posts indexed by Google definitely depends on the platform. Only a small minority of Facebook posts are indexed, but Google has full access to Twitter and Google+ and the ability to index them. This is why people report a stronger correlation between these two platforms and domain authority.

3.   Build professional relationships with people in the same industry.

Don’t underestimate the power of networking – and how social media can help you with it. Getting people in your niche to link to your site is sometimes a question of building professional relationships – and all it takes for that is a social network.

If you don’t know where or how to start, you can try joining groups on Google+ or Facebook related to your business’ niche and simply share your content with them.

Building great relationships with readers and influencers can sometimes make all the difference – social media exposure means that you are putting your content in front of writers and site owners who find it relevant, and may want to link to it as a reference.

4.   Updates

For long term, consistent success and a steady upward spiral, you need to keep reminding Google that your site is buzzing with activity. You should take the time to promote your updates properly too, and social media engagement naturally is here to help. So whatever you write or update, make sure it gets recognized on social media.

5.   Don’t forget that social traffic is important all on its own.

You don’t have to think of it in terms of social traffic vs organic traffic – but rather just traffic. There are instances where social traffic can equal or even outperform organic traffic from a well ranked page when it comes to the number of people it leads to your site.

So, how can a social media plan increase your domain’s authority?

All of the above mentioned points can lead to only one possible conclusion – a strong social media presence and engagement and a good domain authority work towards the same goal  – getting more conversions.

It’s best not to think of them as two separate concepts – they feed off of each other and work in tandem to spread your business or brand’s digital presence while leading consumers down the conversion funnel.

But they both require effort, time and good business decisions, so having a sound social media plan and strategy is a must.

There has never been a better time to get into proper social media optimization and planning, as social media platforms are bursting from businesses pitching their products.

Creating a strategy and using it to trigger SEO factors relevant to domain authority will get you the edge you need over your competition.


Written by Nate Gadzhibalaev

Nate is the founder of Amplifr, a service that assists individuals and businesses by automatically scheduling their social media posts, helping them to earn more money. With a background in product managing, business development, and international growth, he aims to help individuals and businesses by showing them how they can continue to grow their audience profitably and efficiently. “

The Benefits of Internal Linking for SEO

When it comes to SEO, content is king. But as you may already know, creating high-quality content alone isn’t enough to give you a high ranking in search results. You need to cater to search engines as well as visitors in order to improve page visibility and help users discover your content.

An internal link is a type of hyperlink on a web page which links to another page or resource within the same website domain. It is essential to any website, as, among other things, it helps establish your site architecture, build page authority, improve user experience, and can affect your overall rankings.

Anchor Texts Improve Usability

Internal linking helps users navigate your site. Anchor texts within a page or article should point to relevant or related content that’s likely to interest your readers. Rather than using generic text, using anchor text which is relevant to the page you’re linking to will also help search engines understand what the page is about and improve your SEO.

Internal links can also help prevent the duplication of content on your website. Instead of having to repeat something you’ve already written about in another article and keep your content unique, you can help users find the information they’re looking for through links to other internal pages..

For instance, if you’ve posted an article about the benefits of cardiovascular exercise and want to touch the subject of a healthy diet – which you’ve written about in a previous post – internal linking will guide your readers to useful, relevant information without the need to re-write content.

Spread Traffic Throughout Your Site

Whilst links from external sites pointing towards your domain will help you build authority, internal linking can help you spread traffic and authority (commonly called ‘link juice’) to pages other pages on your site.

Let’s say a visitor discovers your page whilst reading an article on a different website. They click on the link to read more on your website, then come across an internal link which leads them to another source of interest. Without internal linking, this visitor may have left immediately after reading the information they accessed via an external link.

Using internal links to help users navigate your site should boost page views and increase site conversion rate, as you’re helping readers discover relevant content. This can lead them to take a desired action such as signing up to a mailing list or completing a sale (as they are experiencing more of your brand).

Increase Time on Site

Helping users discover more pages on your website by linking to related post can help increase time spent on site and lower your bounce rate (which is when a visitor immediately leaves your site after viewing one page). As bounce rate and time on site can both affect your rankings, they’re important numbers to monitor.

If your internal linking offers content of real value, it will help retain visitors on your site for longer and improve user experience, giving you a step ahead in your SEO efforts.

Improve PageRank

PageRank is an algorithm used by Google to measure the importance of a web page based on how many backlinks the web page receives. Google uses this score as part of determining your ranking factor, so it’s an important measure to be aware of.

Internal linking on a page with a high PageRank will help spread views to other connected pages, in turn helping those pages get a boost in page authority and rankings.

Better Crawling and Indexing

Google bots are designed to recreate a user’s thinking process and will follow all links and pages that are easily indexed when visiting your site. A strong internal architecture with properly built internal links will help bots find deeper pages that aren’t always visited.

Again, these links can boost other pages and help increase your overall ranking.

Final Thoughts

To reap the benefits of internal linking, you need to ensure you’re linking to related, useful content using rich anchor text. When done correctly, it can support your SEO by driving traffic and authority to other pages and also improve your content marketing strategy.

So to build page authority and visibility, improve user experience, and create strong connections between pages, try to focus on the quality of your internal links.


About The Author: Peter Bailey is the owner of American Display – a manufacturer of offline marketing products. In his spare time, he enjoys writing about his knowledge of traditional marketing principles, but adapting them for the online marketing environment.

eCommerce SEO Optimization: A Must-Read Primer

The following is a guest post. Author’s info at bottom of page. Have something of your own to contribute? Contact me!


Many eCommerce stores focus on paid advertising and overlook the importance of SEO. However, knowing how to optimize an eCommerce website for search engines will increase organic traffic to your store and has the potential of doubling your profits.

Appearing in the top 10 organic search results

Statistics show that only 4.8% of Google searchers click on the second results page. So unless you’re ranking on the first page, you’ll probably be experiencing low traffic and missing out on sales opportunities.

Whilst aiming for the first results page is a good start, the number one spot often pulls in double the amount of traffic than the second. Bearing this in mind, you’ll want to rank as high as possible on a results page to generate consistent, high-quality traffic and reap the benefits down the line.

Not all keywords are the same

Keyword research is one of the most important aspects of eCommerce SEO and knowing how to how to optimize your eCommerce website. Identifying high-value search terms potential customers are using and placing them in strategic positions on your site will make you more discoverable and up your ranking.

The key is to focus on commercial keywords that show buying intent, and not information keywords often used by content-heavy sites. Understanding this difference will help attract users in a buying frame of mind.

Once you’ve come up with some basic ideas, you can use Google’s autocomplete feature or related search suggestions at the bottom of a results page to find relevant keywords other searchers are using.

Keyword phrases formed of 3 or 4 words tend to be more specific, and finding the right ones can have a significant impact on your conversion rates as they usually have a lower competition.

You can also use Amazon or any competitor’s site to check out keywords they’re using for relevant products or product categories.

ecommerce seo

Up your keyword game

To step up your game you can use research tools to learn more about which keywords your competitors rank for and other useful data such as volume and competition.

Keywords with a high search volume will bring more potential traffic to your site but usually involve more competition. Keywords with a lower competition mean you’re more likely to rank highly, but may not bring as much traffic.

The ideal combination are those with high volume and low competition, so putting the time into finding these should really pay off.

You can check which keywords your competitors use and see if your site is missing any with tools such as SEMrush and Moz.  

Finally, try not to fill your site with keywords that aren’t relevant to your products. This is a big ranking factor and will have a negative impact if you’re using search terms with low relevancy. Upping yoru keyword game is an important part of knowing how to how to optimize any eCommerce website

Structuring your site

As well as affecting your user experience, the way your site is structured will have an impact on search engine rankings. Focusing on a simple structure which is easy to scale as your store grows will make it easy for users and search engines to find the products you have to offer.

Keeping your product pages as few clicks away from your homepage as possible will also prevent sending users in circles, and makes it easier to add or remove products and categories without too much re-organization.

Reduce thin content

Product pages often contain very little text, making it hard for Google and other search engines to decide which keywords to rank your page for. Try making your product descriptions longer, include user reviews, the materials the product is made of, etc…

Adding more information gives you the chance to use more keywords, will keep your customers happy, and allows search engines to rank your page accurately. If you’re working with a huge catalog, try focusing on your top products.

On-page SEO

These features may differ depending on the eCommerce platform you use and some will be done automatically, but it’s a good idea to optimize your category and product pages, including:

  • Adding canonical tags
  • Adding your store name to title tags
  • Generate sitemap.xml and robots.txt files
  • Enabling social media sharing buttons
  • Including keywords in your title tags, meta description, and Alt Text
  • Editing file names to include keywords

Edit your URLs

Editing each page URL to include a short, to the point description of your page makes it easier for searchers to read, and this is taken into account by Google.

Keeping them below 60 characters, including keywords, matching the URL to your page title, and excluding stopwords (such as and, of, a, etc…) should help pique searcher interest and increase your click-through-rate.

As a note of caution, keyword stuffing and repetition can make your site look spammy and could decrease your chances of improving your Google ranking.

In it for the long run

eCommerce SEO is an essential step in building and growing your online business. Taking the time to implement these techniques will have a positive effect on your ranking in the long run, increasing your exposure and paving the way for higher conversion rates.


About the author: Callum is the head of marketing at Warble Media. They are a boutique website design and seo agency based in Dubbo, NSW, Australia. If you have any questions about marketing, feel free to contact him on callum@warblemedia.com.au

 

Artificial Intelligence and the Buyer Experience

The amount of technology available to modern marketing managers is both a blessing and a burden. Some lose focus as they chase the latest shiny piece of martech or adtech, without which they might feel inadequate or behind the times. So, which of the many emerging tools and strategies are worth adopting?

To get a clue, it helps to meet with those on the forefront of the industry – both users and vendors – and pick their brains a bit. In order to accomplish this, I attended three notable marketing conferences over the past couple of months to speak with several key executives along with some select partners and customers. These were Adobe’s Summit, Demandbase’s Marketing Innovation Summit, and Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience.

I discovered two major themes ran through all three events. The first was that marketers are doubling-down on creating better brand interactions — the preferred buzzword being “experiences” — across all touchpoints, not just better marketing messages.

And the second was that artificial intelligence (or machine learning, if you prefer) allows a greater number of marketers to do that easily, and at scale.

Why ‘experience?’

But what does a better experience really mean? And how will AI/machine learning help create it?

At Adobe Summit’s keynote address, which took place in Las Vegas in March, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen’s described the ideal customer experience as, “personal, consistent, elegant, and everywhere you are.”

EVP Brad Rencher went further with, “It’s not about the thing [brands] are selling; it’s the entire experience they are providing.” The point is to “make people feel special…better experiences make them spend more time with us.”

While that is all fine and dandy coming from Adobe, which is marketing an entire cloud suite around the better customer experience model, I wanted to get some thoughts from the boots on the ground. I spoke with Danny Ledger, Principal at Deloitte, which counts Fox Sports and Activision among its clients, for his opinion on whether this concept had any real teeth. He thought it does. “Effective companies are going to compete more on the basis of experience today versus product or price.” He clarified, “As a customer … I want to have touchpoints with those companies that are meaningful and personalized and tailored to me across everything I do with that company. That could be a support call I place or an email they send about a new service I should try. Having one voice across those contacts is important.”

So, what does artificial intelligence have to do with providing this sort of high-touch experience through marketing channels?

fabio adobe

Figure 1 Fabio working the conference floor at Adobe’s event.

In Adobe’s case, Sensei makes it happen. It’s a machine learning framework built into the Adobe platform which constantly learns and adapts to push out the right content to the right people at the right time. It can, for example, auto-create website experiences (layout, graphics, messaging) based on what it knows about the visitor and the device they are using. And it knows a lot, as it taps into data from 100 trillion transactions logged from Adobe customers each year plus the 850 million devices connected with the Adobe Co-op, which tracks behavior at the device level.

Jack Welde is CEO of Smartling, a translation technology company for managing multilingual content. He gave a practical overview of how AI ties together with experience: “So we have gotten to where we can create a page on a banking site, and depending on who you are, it might show a couple with two kids. If you are a young female it might show a different picture altogether, but what happens if she prefers Spanish? Machine learning is going to be key for every single business to figure all this out. When you think back to things like ‘Do I need a website?’ or ‘Do I need a mobile app?’ Those are very obvious things now. It’s going to be ‘Do I need an AI strategy?’ That’s going to be the killer app of the future.”

For Amanda Cichon, Internet Applications Manager for Garmin — and Adobe Campaign and Adobe Experience Manager customer — “Experience has to run deep, through everything.” Her challenge goes beyond presenting product information online. It includes connecting physical devices such as fitness trackers through a mobile application, Garmin Connect, and keeping that experience consistent throughout all touchpoints and screens.

“Do you know your customer, and are you talking to them in a way that makes sense and resonates with them? We’ve gotten so analytical with how we look at challenges or how do we set our businesses apart, that sometimes we forget that our customers are people,” Cichon says. According to her, adopting a highly personalized, experience-focused marketing model has really moved the needle for Garmin’s sales, and artificial intelligence will only help further.

ABM Meets AI

The next event I attended took place at San Francisco’s Pier 27 in early April, where thousands of leading-edge marketing professionals convened for Demandbase’s fourth Marketing Innovation Summit, the largest annual conference devoted to Account Based Marketing (ABM). Pointing to the continual growth of ABM as a marketing strategy, CMO Peter Isaacson announced they have certified over 1,000 people as ABM specialists in the last year, and will soon introduce an online ABM certification program to better meet demand.

Apart from ABM, AI/machine learning was also on everyone’s lips at the event, although tinged with a bit of uncertainty. Demandbase’s CEO Chris Golec introduced Site Optimization, an AI-based website personalization solution built using technology from its Spiderbook acquisition last year. As with Adobe, it automatically recommends specific content and customized layouts to each website visitor based on AI-driven insights – but Demandbase’s solution is geared specifically for B2B marketing.

As for the uncertainty I mentioned, even Issacson pointed out that. based on a December study. 80 percent of marketers believe AI will be the next big thing, but only 10 percent are using it. And a sobering 74 percent have no idea how it applies to marketing. Clearly, there is a lot of opportunity for education and growth in this area. 
chris golec demandbase

Figure 2 Chris Golec, Founder & CEO Demandbase

I sat down with Radius SVP Marketing Shari Johnston to talk about ABM, and AI predictably became part of the conversation almost immediately. Radius links B2B data with predictive technology to uncover the best prospects and integrates that with enterprise marketing automation, CRM and other systems to execute on an omni-channel approach.

Johnston gave a clue as to what might be hindering the adoption of AI by marketers at the moment. While bullish on it, she cautioned, “None of this technology is going to work well if your underlying data sources are not looking good. If you are running predictive or AI off of bad data or incomplete data or the wrong set of data you are going to get negative results. Your go to market strategy is only as good as the underlying data you are relying on. I finally see that being a C-level conversation, as opposed to ‘oh, let the operations people deal with that.’ “

Which brings up a great point: becoming a customer-centric, experience-obsessed enterprise which leverages AI is going to involve a top-to-bottom adjustment for many businesses. The entire organization must focus on the customer experience, not just marketers, and not just IT. What might this look like in practical terms?

  1. Meet with key decision makers and stakeholders and get them to embrace that, as Adobe’s Narayen put it at the keynote, “Preserving the status quo is not a strategy.” Get buy-in to polish your customer experience with a plan which involves all customer-facing departments.
  2. Modify your tech stack so you can deliver the right content to the right people at the right time in a highly relevant and personal matter – and this includes an AI component. There are a lot of solutions out there, and none are a one-size-fits-all proposition. So, you have to do your research for what will suit your business best in the areas of email, website personalization, social media, marketing automation, ad buying, and ABM tools for B2B marketers.
  3. Use data to improve other areas of customer experience apart from your digital presence, such as retail spaces, customer service procedures, fulfillment and delivery practices. This could include: empowering CSRs to solve customer service issues immediately based on what they know about the customer rather than escalating to a supervisor; rethinking store layouts and how physical customers are sold based on sensor feedback; surveying customer preferences and eliminating things they find annoying, such as endless telephone trees or foreign-based call centers; and many more.
  4. Audit results obsessively to refine areas of CX, and utilize machine learning for recommendations. It’s a never-ending job but the right data tools will make it easier.

One interesting AI-powered tool marketers can leverage right now to enhance the customer experience is the chatbot.

Rise of the Bots

At Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience held at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in April, the cloud giant announced its own AI products under the umbrella of Adaptive Intelligent Apps for CX. They also announced chatbot innovations which provide immediate, conversational-style answers to customer queries on both text and voice-driven platforms such as Facebook’s Messenger and Amazon’s Alexa.  At a private media roundtable, CEO Mark Hurd said, “These are significant opportunities to now be able to voice-to-voice talk to the system and get an answer in your own language. This is a combination not just of the chatbot voice capability but the integration back to machine-to-machine. This is the construct of where the next generation of systems comes from.”  

Delving a bit deeper into the topic was Meeten Bhavsar, SVP, Development, Oracle Service Cloud. “There’s more and more an expectation of immediacy now. If I’m on Twitter or Facebook or whatever channel I’m on, and I have a question, I expect an answer right away. There’s no longer this whole mindset of calling a contact center, a 1-800 number for support. The expectation is that I’ve got a question and I want an answer now. Businesses that can deliver on that expectation are going to have a key differentiator.”

The promise for AI-driven chatbots is that they will not only provide immediate answers to customer queries, but that they will refine and improve themselves as they self-learn based on customer responses. They might eventually become profit centers by delivering leads to sales for real time handling, or even directly selling through these interactions based on the historical data they have on customers and their behavior before and during the chatbot session.

I hope I have provided some insight into which tools and strategies marketers might want to adopt soon. I am going to end off with a quote from Haresh Kumar, Director of Strategy and Product Marketing, Adobe Experience Manager. “Every business is an experience business, so from the start of the funnel to post acquisition are all touchpoints where experiences can be tailored.”

For marketers and the brands they work for, it pays to tailor them well. Let’s hope artificial intelligence delivers on its potential of making it much easier to do so.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Writer bio:

Willie Pena is the owner of Pena Media Group, a Los Angeles-based content marketing firm which advises businesses on marketing strategies and produces blogs, video, and social media content to execute them.

15 Digital Marketing Tips to Grow a Small Business

digitalmarketing

Regardless of the nature, scope, and current reach of your small business, you need a digital marketing strategy. It is what will distinguish your business from others, and allow you to capture more opportunities as people search for similar products and services on the web. What’s worse, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in place, you will be left eating the dust of your competitors who do.

Below are some practical tips for any small company like yours about to explore digital marketing strategies for the first time in order to grow their business.

1) Have a website
Whether informational or transactional, this can’t be emphasized enough – a website is a must! A comprehensive digital marketing strategy will not push through without a website of your own. At the very least, it should include information about your business, products, services, location, operating hours, and contact. Another point to consider is optimizing the website’s metadata from the title tag down to the descriptive alt text for images. Use keywords related to your business in these tags.

2) Make it mobile-friendly
We are in a mobile-first era. Expectedly, your website must be mobile-friendly. People are always on the move, and now they are even being assisted by mobile virtual aides such as Siri and Cortana. Hence, they want services to be available when they search for them on their mobile devices. In fact, even before a person lands at your doorstep, the chances are high he has already searched for your company online.

3) Have clear calls to action
Regardless of how you want your prospects to end up on your website, your goal is to guide their journey. Make the transition as smooth as possible by making it clear what you want them to do each step of the way. Should they:

  • book an appointment?
  • call a hotline?
  • fill out a form for a free estimate?
  • download an ebook?

pay

Decide what you want people to do on each page of your website, and tell them!

4) Provide various contact methods
Make communicating with you as easy as possible. Give your prospects options such as live chat, phone number, social accounts, email, and the combination of these. Make sure that you respond to and accommodate each inquiry within a few hours — you are probably not the only company they are contacting and you want to reach them back first.

5) Include a blog
If there’s one winning feature of a website, that would be a blog. It’s a place where you can control what you publish and your messaging. Blogs are useful not just for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, but also for demonstrating your knowledge and expertise about the subject that matters to you and your audience most. A blog is thus great for positioning you as an authority. People like to buy from knowledgeable authorities who know their stuff.

6) Publish content regularly
A blog is useless if it isn’t publishing unique, informative, and share-worthy content on a regular basis. Aim for at least two posts per week (hire an outside writer if you need help). Regular publication helps prove relevance. Enable social sharing buttons so readers who find your content useful can share it to others. This drives more traffic to your website for free.

7) Use geo-targeted keywords
For small businesses operating physically, virtually or both, the use of keywords that target the area you serve is advantageous. Include keywords with city or neighborhood name. Put the zip code on the website and social profiles, too. The use of such will allow the local customers to find you when they search for a particular product or service in your place.

8) Post on social sites
Treat social profiles as your closest ally. They are not only great tools to deliver messaging to your target audience, but you can also use these sites to engage in conversations not possible through other means. To win with social media, you need to post regularly. Make your posts entertaining, interesting, and valuable to your audience. Resonate with their needs and interests. Small business owners should at least have a LinkedIn profile at bare minimum.

mobile

9) Diversify the posts
To keep the social posts engaging, publish multimedia posts. Include images, videos, GIFs, etc. However, be mindful of your brand values and overall search goals. Make sure that the post will not ruin your online reputation by being too off-brand, such as by using inappropriate humor or getting overly political.

10) Curate content
Share relevant content from other sources on the web which your audience might find interesting. This is an excellent way to keep your social media feeds active without having to come up with a lot of content yourself. Another benefit to this strategy is that you might attract the attention of the person who’s content you have shared, and if they are popular, they might send some traffic your way.

11) Optimize for local listings
Take advantage of Google, Yelp, and other sites which feature listings from local businesses. Make sure that your information includes your brand name, products, services, and the most important keywords for your business. Thus, when a user searches Yelp, for instance, your entry will be displayed in Apple Maps. In Google, a local page shows up in local searches and in Maps, which is a great way for local people to find your business.

12) Keep your information updated
Directories are only as valuable as they are accurate and provide up-to-date contact information. Make sure that you keep track of every directory where your business is listed, and keep the information consistent throughout all your profiles. Update when you change location, hours, phone numbers, etc.

13) Monitor mentions
Good and bad conversations can be created around your brand name, products, and services. Thus, set up alerts to receive notifications whenever a person mentions you in a post, message, or comment. You can do this using Google Alerts or other third-party monitoring tools such as Mention.

blogging

14) Monitor online reviews
There is nothing more damning to your credibility that took you years to build than a negative or bad review. Search for your brand name from time to time to know what people are saying or discussing about you and your products and services. A simple Google search alone will reveal discussions that you need to act on. Respond to negative reviews appropriately. Deal with them privately if you can, or post a public rebuttal (without emotion or revenge in mind) to explain the situation and clear your name.

15) Promote positive reviews
After receiving a positive feedback, share it on your website, blog, and social pages. Whenever someone searches for your brand name, they’ll be able to know what others are saying about you. Likewise, ask your customers to share the positive review. The more people who get to see it, the better. Positive reviews actually show in Google results pages.

Your target audience is on the interwebs. The points above are the perfect ways to kick-start your own online marketing strategy. To not implement a strategy and simply wing it will have negative consequences. Remember that your loss is a rival’s gain. Don’t let it happen to your business. Be a smart digital marketer!

Author Bio:
Abbeygail is a freelance writer that writes for Optimind Digital, a digital marketing agency based in Manila that provides digital marketing services utilizing the web, social media, search and mobile. She also writes articles with different topics like SEO, mobile application, travel, food and wedding.

5 Advanced Webmaster Tools That Can Make Your SEO Better

ID-100275668
We need a pie chart in here somewhere.

The following is a guest post by Cris Monde.

For any online marketer, Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) are indispensable, especially for search engine optimization (SEO). Any experienced pro who has been using these tools for years already knows the power they hold to make your SEO efforts better. However, there might be a few hidden gems in the platform that even they might not be utilizing.

Below are some of them, which will enhance your webmaster tools IQ while also helping with your optimization efforts.

1. Identifying cross-linked pages

Cross-linking (or simply internal linking) is a fundamental SEO concept. GWT has an ‘Internal Links’ feature wherein you can see the most frequently linked internal pages within the website. Through this, you can also determine the effectiveness of your internal linking integration and the strength of each linked page.

On GWT, click ‘Search Traffic.’ Then, click ‘Internal Links.’ It will display all the links including how many times a specific page is linked to.

If some of the most critical content is not listed on the Internal Links, you should add a few internal links pointing to these pages. Don’t overdo it though.

2. Changing sitelink order

Sitelinks are also important for improving click-through rate (CTR). Sitelinks are supplemental entries that Google lists beneath the main site whenever the main website appears on results pages. They typically appear when a searcher conducts a branded or directional search.

Sitelinks do not always appear in the SERPs, since they are generated through Google’s secret algorithms. Regardless, you can increase the chances of making them appear by having a clear site structure. Don’t forget your sitemap, too. Both can increase the likelihood of generating sitelinks.

Go to GWT, then click ‘Search Appearance.’ Afterwards, click on ‘Sitelinks.’ The pages appearing as your sitelinks will be displayed. You can choose to demote a specific page so that it will not appear as a sitelink whenever a user searches for your company name, so that your preferred pages show up instead.

3. Determining index status

Index status is considered one of the most significant indicators of your SEO’s health. Every search engine optimizer should be meticulous and check the status from time to time. Changes may mean algorithmic shifts or negative SEO that can affect rankings. This is especially true when indexation drops.

The total number of indexed pages should be rising if you are consistently writing and publishing material. There must be something wrong if this is not happening. somehow.

By checking the index status, you can immediately identify whether there are unfavorable URL activities on your site including the robots.txt file blocking important content.

To make sure, click ‘Google Index’ and then, click ‘Index Status.’ In here, you should see which of your pages were indexed and when.

5. Identifying HTML issues

HTML issues to check include the markup language itself plus the meta description and title tag. Both of these are still crucial to SEO. GWT will let you know if there are issues regarding these, as well as non-indexable content.

Click ‘Search Appearance.’ Then, click ‘HTML Improvements.’ The screen will show the last update and whether any issues are detected with the meta description on your website.

Further, it will include the number of pages with missing title tags, duplicate title tags, long title tags, short title tags or non-informative title tags. Google strongly believes that these items ruin an otherwise great user experience (UX).

To remedy duplicate title tags, for instance, click on the ‘Duplicate title tags’ entry and you will be directed to another page that lists the tags and the pages on which they occur.

Google recommends SE optimizers to review the list and update the tags wherever possible.

5. Changing crawl rate

Search engine crawling affects a website’s performance. A content-rich website may take a quite a few minutes to be crawled, potentially slowing things down during that time and using up bandwidth. Remember that even a second delay in site load speed may turn the visitors away in favor of your competitors. Not good for SEO.

GWT lets you control the rate at which Google should crawl your website. The recommended crawl rate is ‘Let Google optimize for my site.’ However, you can always change it to ‘Limit Google’s maximum crawl rate.’ You can then set the slider between Low and High (in seconds), depending depend on your site’s needs.

Click the gear icon at the upper right corner. Click ‘Site Settings.’ Next, click ‘Limit Google’s maximum crawl rate.’ Set the rate. Click the ‘Save’ button.

In the same way that SEO should be an integral part of your overall digital marketing, the use of GWT must be a fundamental piece in putting your SEO in a much better health. GWT has several features that we ought to be manipulating to our advantage. The better you understand what these features are and how they may contribute to your overall SEO strategy, the better optimized your website will be in Google.

About Author: Cris is a Filipino blogger and a business enthusiast. Currently working in a digital marketing agency in the Philippines that provide services including SEO, web design, social media marketing, mobile app development and many more.

How to Effectively Market a Client Online Using Video

vdcamThe following is a guest post by Camille McClane.

Putting short videos and the limited attention span of Internet users together provides a lot of potential.

You’ve got potential for a ton of exposure, for attention from big-time media outlets and the opportunity to reach a large number of people, many of whom would be willing to buy a product based on their interest in your video alone. That’s the world that the Internet has helped produce. A fast, fickle, yet highly interactive place where marketing means you get someone’s attention quickly and then subtly make your sales pitch.

Marketing a client through video production requires an understanding of this world and the knowledge to create something that’s short, shareable and at the same time is able to make some form of a call to action without sounding like conscription. It’s a lot to accomplish in such a short video clip, but knowing the process increases your chances of getting your client’s name out there to a higher number of people.

Here’s a practical template to follow.

1. Come up with a detailed budget

Budgeting for video production is tough, because once you get into the process of making a video and dealing with the delays and unexpected issues that come about, things can get more expensive. While you should do your best to plan for those delays, make sure you come up with a detailed budget ahead of time with contingency plans for both your hourly rate and extra expenses that might come up.

There are several source available to budding video producers, such as Movie Magic, Gorilla and Showbiz that provide detailed, step-by-step formatting for budgeting and scheduling.

2. Know your Client’s Niche

Before you sit down to write your script or do any shooting, it benefits everyone involved if you as the producer can do some studying of the client’s niche and general needs. It doesn’t require anything terribly intensive; just know who their audience is and what type of person you’re trying to get the attention of. Once you have an idea, base the rest of your production off of that. The blog at HostPapa further demonstrates several marketing strategies to best determine your client’s media needs.

3. Write an Outline and a Script

It’s a simple step, but in a lot of situations, videos are shot without any real plan. That can work, but it can often cause a lot of problems and leave you with an unfinished or low-quality product. You owe it to your client to come prepared and be able to hand them an actual script of what you’re going to be filming during the pre-production phase, at least a week before actually shooting anything. It’s more professional and it’ll give the client the opportunity to critique or make changes; as painful as that might be.

4. Have Alternative Ideas Ready

Once you have a script in place, alternative ideas can come from your client’s feedback or from your own best guess as to what might work or not work. While it doesn’t have to be exhaustive, you should have a few different ideas and directions that you could go with a single idea.

5. Come up with a Release Plan Unique to your Client’s Audience

At the point where you have a video in hand and ready to go, you need to come up with a release plan that’s uniquely tailored to your client. Going back to number two, you’re looking to target a specific audience, so this means that you’re going to base your release of the video off of that audience and where they are most likely to congregate. Online, this generally means focusing on certain social media accounts, forums or Internet communities. It all just depends on who your client is trying to reach.

Every Client is Different

You need to have a marketing system in place, but at the same time, that system needs room to change and accommodate various clients, since every one of them will be different. They’ll bring different, needs, ideas and audiences to the table, which means it pays for you to have a production strategy in place that can adhere to those variables.

Camille McClane is a tech and social media enthusiast with a passion for writing and video production. She thanks Willie Peña and his blog for hosting her!

Networking for Online Marketing

HandshakeA great deal of online marketing is actually dependent upon your ability to network with other site owners. If you market by utilizing blogs, premium WordPress themes make it easy for you to set up blog posts written by guests with appropriate linking, images and so forth. You can even add a guest blogger as an author on your site and give them a complete profile in some themes. The reason this is important is that the people with whom you’re networking to improve your online marketing efforts will also want to improve their own online marketing efforts, and you have to give them something to get something.

Swap Posts

Before you ask someone if you could post on their blog as a way of promoting your own site, offer them a chance to post on yours. This way, you’re approaching them with something of value rather than approaching them with a request. You’ll find that you will get a much more positive response by doing so.

It’s okay to do what amounts to a one-to-one swap. For example, if you allow them to post a 400 word blog on your site, ask them if you can do the same on theirs. This way, everything is kept fair and square and you come off as a professional.

Mention Good Blogs

If you have a few favorite blogs you like reading, don’t be afraid to mention them on your own blog. Let the author of that blog know that you gave them a mention and a link. Unless you have a very substandard site, they’re going to appreciate the fact that you actually did link them from your blog. It gives them a very real search engine optimization benefit and, of course, that’s what just about everybody engaged in any form of online marketing is really after.

Have More than One Site

Go ahead and put up more than one site and make each of those sites a part of your online marketing effort. This way, you’re going a bit farther in terms of publicizing yourself. It also prevents you from putting unrelated content on your main blog, as you have a more appropriate blog on which to post it. Of course, the more sites you have the easier it is for you to offer people links to one of your sites and the easier it is for people to find you on the Internet. Having more than one site can increase your marketing and networking potentials immensely.

About author

Anny Solway is a creative writer at ThemeFuse.com – a top provider of premium WordPress themes. She is passionate about studying online marketing industry and sharing informative tips.

Wise words from Director James Cameron

James cameron

Pick up a camera. Shoot something. No matter how small, no matter how cheesy, no matter whether your friends and your sister star in it. Put your name on it as director. Now you’re a director. Everything after that you’re just negotiating your budget and your fee. – Director James Cameron

These words might seem a bit trite. Things really can’t be that easy in life, can they?

Yes, it really is as simple as that.

Decide to be or do something. Then get to it, even if poorly at first.

Ignore your detractors, most of whom will probably be in your very own family as you get started.

Then deal with the rest of the complicated stuff later, including refining your craft, fixing mistakes, apologizing to those whose toes you have stepped on.

The only things that can truly stop you are the doubts that lurk in the shadows of your own mind. And they aren’t real. Even if someone is mean to you or throws a government regulation at your face, they can only stop you if you agree with them.

So get going!